From Press & Staff Reports
Ten years ago, “William Keith “Rusty Mac” Fulce wrote about the “Adopt a Teen for Christmas” program.
The Eupora native started the program to provide Christmas for teens served by the Exchange Club/Carl Perkins Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse in Jackson, Tenn., where he was a radio personality.
Since his death in March 2004, the program has been renamed in his honor and memory, and is now the “Rusty Mac Adopt-a-Teen Program.” Fulce was the son of Jerry Easley of Eupora and the late Coy Easley, and Buddy and Betty Fulce of Eupora.
Following is the article Fulce wrote about the program that was published in The (Jackson, Tenn.) City News:
Adopt a Teen
By Rusty Mac
Radio, as I’m sure some of you know, is a crazy business. One of the things that has kept me in it all these years is the opportunity it affords me to make a difference in my community. How big a difference is debatable I’m sure, but I try to do the best I can.
Anyway, a few years ago, I found myself alone for the first time in a long time at Christmas. I had just been through a divorce and was already bearing a striking resemblance to “Scrooge” – so I was looking for a way to make a difference.
The radio station I work for had been doing a toy drive for the Exchange Club/Carl Perkins Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse for several years and I always helped with that, but I wanted something personal … something that was mine. I needed a new challenge.
After I returned from my enlistment in the Navy, I was blessed with a son. A beautiful baby boy my wife and I named Seth Adam. On the day of his birth the doctors said he was perfectly healthy. I was sitting on Cloud 9.
Three days later I was in a freefall. My beautiful baby boy had developed unforeseeable problems and before we knew it, he was with the angels. The first year, since he would have been a teen if he’d been with me, I decided to provide a Happy Christmas for a teenage boy in his memory.
I really don’t remember who I talked to specifically, but it was determined that $100 would cover the need. Then, the social worker I was working with asked if I would like to go on the shopping spree for my teenager. It was one of the best holiday seasons I had spent in years.
It then occurred to me, there had to be more teens in need and sure enough there were – 17 that year. I got on the air, begged for help and sweated bullets, but our neighbors came through and continue to year after year.
Over time the need has grown. We now collect for more than 100 teens a year. And just like that first year, I beg and sweat bullets because $10,000 is a lot of money. But, I simply can’t stand the thought of a child disappointed on Christmas morning. I’m sure that, nationwide, teens would tell you they aren’t children. But I’m just as sure that their hearts would break if they thought no one cared, especially at this time of year … no matter how tough they act.
Now it’s time for the begging and sweating to begin again. … Whatever you can do will be deeply appreciated. … Somewhere a little angel will be smiling, and his daddy will be forever grateful.